Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I am Alive and Well

Well hello family!  Yes, I am alive.  Alive, happy, and WAY better than last week.  Crazy to think this week was way better, cause this has been a crazy week.  So being a missionary, we don't really hear anything about storms and stuff unless it is really, really crazy.  Well we hadn't heard anything.  So last Wednesday, we woke up expecting just a normal day.  Boy were we wrong.  I woke up at about 3 AM to lightning that literally didn't stop.  It looked like it was light outside because the lightning just kept coming.  It was insane.  But I was an exhausted little Elder, so I went back to sleep.  We woke up, and it was raining super hard, so we threw on our proselyting clothes and went downstairs to ask the neighbor what was up.  He said the river had risen and that it was flooding Barrio Nuevo (the area we had been contacting and where some members live).  We hurried over there, and wow!  The river had risen over 30 feet and was running through the roads.  We ran to Agapito and Mami´s to see what we could do.  We grabbed their valuables and then trekked in our church clothes through waist deep water to get their things safe.  I fell in a pothole in the road that was underwater and ripped a hole in my pants....sorry about that.....and banged up my knee pretty good, but that's not what's important.  Picture this...2 white guys in shirts and ties walking through waist deep water carrying stuff on our heads and shoulders.  Pretty legit, right?  We then tried to go to the Ward Mission leader's house because we knew it was in danger.  We went to the end of the street, and we couldn't even get down it because the river was flowing down it and there were trees and debris floating down the street.  It honestly was the kinds of things you only see on the news.  I will send pictures, but they really don't do it justice at all.  We then ran to the church and started thinking.  We went and bought a bunch of food and supplies in case things got worse, we changed out of our proselyting clothes and got ready to work.  We went back up the river (used to be a road)  and tried to see what was going on.  The river had swallowed a whole row of houses (including a members)  and had gone up to the roofs of most neighborhoods, and the houses were full of mud.  Let the work begin.  Mom don't worry.  My life was only in danger like once, but it honestly was the last thing on my mind.  I have learned more in the last week than I'm pretty sure the rest of my life.  Last week I was feeling all bad for running hoo.  Then this happened.  I saw people who lost everything they owned, and who have no way of getting these things replaced.  My selfish complaints suddenly seemed like nothing.  I have never been so humbled in my life.  Anyway back to the story....that day we spent the day at Araujo´s house (ward mission leader)  helping him with his house.  He had about three feet of mud throughout his whole house, so that was a lot of 5 gallon buckets full of mud and a lot of shoveling.  But the most amazing part was this family.  They all had smiles on their faces.  They were happy.  In spite of all of this, they were happy.  Can you believe that?  I couldn't.  Absolutely amazing.  Not everyone was in this same mood.  We would be walking, covered in mud after helping people all day, and people would yell ridiculously rude things to us.  Here there are two extremes.  The extremely humble, and the extremely prideful.   I have realized it doesn't take money to have pride.  Interesting huh?  Anyway, next day.  More work in the mud.  The pictures will tell the stories.  I was covered head to toe in mud.  And yet I was the happiest I have been so far on the mission.  I had forgotten about myself and was serving the people.  It was exactly what I needed.  That night we helped a random man we saw on the street clean out his house.  He was so grateful.  He told us thank you over and over again.  Pretty much we just walked up and down the street ( now river)  and found people to serve.  It was amazing.  Then every night we would go wash our clothes and get ready for the next days.  E-mailing is really hard.  I just ramble.  Lo siento.  Anyway.....oh yeah the day of the storm it almost took out a was pretty intense.  Okay I believe we are on Friday.  Friday was, to day, the best day of the mission.  We started by cleaning out another house, a house of a single mother and children.  It was a pretty big ordeal.  All of their furniture and things were still in the house, so we had to clean all that out.  Remember when we were lifting Grandma and Grandpas fancy mattress into the cabin and it was stinking heavy and folded all over?  Well times that weight by about 1,000 and you have a mattress filled with mud and water.  It was the funniest thing in the world to watch us try so hard to move this mattress, and we couldn't even budge it.  It was crazy.  Anyway we got that all cleaned out and went to Araujo´s house, and this time they were all miserable.  We found out that they hadn't had water for two days..  Okay I will finish this in a while!  We gotta go help some people, but I will finish it today.  I love you guys!!

Elder Reeder

Sorry, the Obispo just called we had to go running!  The church is amazing.  We just finished unloading a truck load of supplies donated by the Church.  There were hundreds of 5 gallon buckets that had cooking supplies, utinsels, first aid kits, everything.  Then there were boxes and boxes of mattresses, clothes, blankets, you name it, the Church sent it.  The Church is amazing.  Okay, where I left off.  Friday being the most amazing day ever.  So that morning we ran to La Sirena (basically the Wal Mart of the DR) para comprar me some rubber boots!  (I was doing a number on my gym shoes)  Then we went and cleaned out another house, and went to Araujo´s.  When we got there the whole family just looked depressed and sad, which is extremely unusual for this family.  We asked what was up, and they said they had no water.  No water to drink, no water to wash, no water.  They hadn't had any since the time of the disaster, but were too busy helping other people to ask for help.  Elder Day and I decided this was a great opportunity to try and help.  We ran across town to the Stake Presidents house, got the phone number of a member with a truck, and within 5 minutes we had Pedro, his truck, and another member to help us out.  We went to our house and got our trusty tank from our shower that holds all of our water, got another huge tank from a member and headed to the church to fill them up.  We ended up getting about 8, 5 gallon tanks of drinking water as well, and loaded it all in the back of this trusty little Toyota Pickup.  Just as we were about to leave,  we realized that there was no way we were going to be able to make it there in this truck.  There was still a good 2 feet of mud in the road, and there was no way this was going to happen.  So we said a prayer.  Elder Day and I stopped right there, and each prayed our hearts out that there would be a way for us to get this water to these people, and then we headed over there.  Just as we got to the end of the road, giant front end loader cleared a path right in front of us that ended right at Araujo´s house.  The Lord answers prayers.  If I know anything, I know that the Lord answers prayers.  So, we were able to baja our little Toyota up this road and deliver the water.  It was an amazing experience.  We then went back, filled them up again, and took water to some other members.  It was awesome.  Then when we got back to the house we had more fun experiences!  We were out there hosing (is hosing a word?)  off our clothes and some kids walked by on the street below us.  We decided to attack.  I distracted them and Elder Day hid with the hose, jumped up and shot them with water and yelled Suckers!  They ran away screaming, and then came back for more!  They kept yelling Sookey and sticking out their tongues!  (sookey was their best attempt at saying sucker)  It was then time for us to get them.  While I distracted them with the hose, Elder Day ran down with a 5 gallon bucket full and got them pretty good.  Missionary work is a lot of work, but when you look for opportunities it is really fun as well.  The little kids are the best.  They always yell americano´s, or mormones, which is kind of annoying, but we have good ways to get around it.  Whenever they say americano to me, I always say, ¿donde estan los americanos?  Soy Argentinian!, or German, or something else.  It really confuses them.  Anyways, Saturday was more work, more mud, more joy.  Serving people really is the best.  I also will never forget the Spanish word for mud, because wow I have never seen so much mud in my life!!!  So in short,  pretty much a whole neighborhood got destroyed, it was bad enough that the President of the country came, I saw a river swallow houses, I saw people in conditions you would never believe, I worked harder than any other time in my life, and I had probably the best week of my life.  Missionaries at the other side of the zone said that people were talking about the 2 missionaries wading through the water with things, and how grateful the people were.  If anything,  I hope the people respect the church, and know that we are here to help, and we aren't just 2 white kids trying to convert them (although we kinda are)  Okay, um Sunday was sweet, we were in Elders Quorum and people were discussing if we should help on Sunday or if Sunday is a day of rest. We busted out Luke 14 verse 5 through I can't remember, and it went silent.  Then the 2nd councilor clapped his hands and said, where are we meeting?  We had a great turnout that night, people from all over San Cristobal came to help, and we all had Yellow vests that said La iglesia de jesucristo de los santos de los ultimos dias, and then manos mormonas que ayudan.  It was awesome to see this colony of Members out helping.  The Church gained a lot of respect this week, and I hope it is going to open the door for missionary work.  Wow....sorry that is really jumbled, crazy, and probably doesn't make sense.  I had a great week.  How about you guys?  Got any stories to match that?  Haha mom thanks for the update on my puppies, and the pictures, keep them coming!  They are the best.  Mom, the best way is to put money in my account, but as for now I´m doing fine.  I charged like 320 pesos or so on my visa for the rubber boots, so if you could transfer my money to pay that off that would be sweet.  Also, when I took my Johnston and Murphies wading through the water the insoles got kinda mad.  I think I can salvage them for now, but can you check with Mr. Mack and see how much new ones would cost?  They are size 9.  If they aren't too expensive it would probably be a good idea to have a couple extras if you could do that.  Thanks for the letters everyone, they really keep me going.  I pray for you all everyday and hope that all is well.  Let me know what is going on in your lives!  It's nice to hear what everyone is doing.   I´m safe, I´m happy, and I am so grateful for what this week has taught me!  Thanks for all the prayers and your concern.  If there is any questions you have, just ask me! I love you all so much!  I will send some pictures now.
Elder Reeder
AKA Riley

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